Discovering Daily Treasures

In October of 2013, my dear friend Pat Bates gave me a book: Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. My sister also has a copy of this book, and we somewhat-jokingly believe that God might switch around the pages every once in a while so that every day that you read this devotional, you read precisely what you need to hear. Yesterday morning/afternoon, I read about “hidden treasures strategically placed” along my path for each day. Young clarified that these treasures might be “trials” or other “blessings” (150). Over the last few weeks, I’ve been discovering both types of treasures: the trials and the blessings.

IGCSE Relief

As of last Friday, all of my students have finished their IGCSE exams! This is a huge relief for both my students and for me. (There’s still one class of students here at Sahel who have to take 2 Sociology exams next Thursday and next Monday, so you can continue praying for those students and their instructor.) Now that the exams are done, we’re finishing up group projects in 3 of my 5 classes. The crazy thing is, we only have until this Thursday to finish these projects!

For the high school at Sahel, exams are Friday the 29th and Monday the 1st, so after Thursday, my main responsibilities will be grading and organizing all of the teaching materials for my classes for whoever will be teaching these courses next year. And yes, I am certainly anticipating that both of those activities will take way longer than I could ever hope or imagine.

Yearbook Adventures

There are so many qualities that I admire about my fiancé. On his extensive repertoire, his experiences and skills with helping to create a yearbook especially amaze me. And let me tell you what—it certainly would have been nice to co-advise the yearbook class with Stephen this quarter. 🙂 There are just so many details, so much checking and rechecking, so many technological questions and answers to discover when it comes to actually taking a yearbook to print. It also doesn’t really help that everyone’s reactions to “Oh, we used Publisher to make this yearbook,” all resemble pleasant shock and surprise.

The cons: It’s rough being a perfectionist when you don’t really know what you’re doing. It’s also a bit rough representing a yearbook staff and an entire school when I make decisions about which page will go where and how much to crop off and where the title should fit on the spine. Also, our visits to the printers are rarely planned and don’t always happen at my most convenient times. Hence the trial-treasure theme.

The pros: I’ve been able to visit the Nigerien printing company multiple times, practicing my French and my Nigerien communication skills all the while. I’ve also had some good cross-cultural conversations with Joel, Sahel’s business agent, as we sat in traffic or waited for the 1pm prayers to end. Also, it’s done! The books are printed and sewn. Now they’re printing and gluing on the covers. Praise the Lord!

Koba and the Red Lion

I had the amazing privilege of helping with the middle school play these past few weeks! We did a one-act, African-fable type show in which a young boy learns to be courageous and selfless as he fights the Red Lion, saving his family and his village from danger. I had a marvelous time helping out the director as we created a set, brainstormed for costumes for a monkey, a zebra, a vulture, etc. I also had the chance to be in the sound booth, calling out cues for our awesome soundboard operator. Of course, I loved being a part of the production, simply due to my love of theatre and the joy that comes from watching students create live art. Selfishly, I also loved being a part of the production staff. I thought of A Very Common Procedure and The Last 5 Years and Purgatorio—I’m so grateful for the chances that I had to Stage Manage for Cedarville senior theatre projects. And yes, I thought frequently of Taming of the Shrew and the other shows that I’ve been in through the years. If I can figure out how to stay on one continent for a prolonged amount of time, I think I might need to audition for some community theatre. 🙂

Under the Weather

The past couple of days (really just since Friday morning), I haven’t been feeling very well. Food rarely enjoys staying in my system for extended periods of time. Not to worry: I’m staying hydrated, I’m taking it easy, and I’m resting a lot. I’ve also taken some medication and I’ve been talking with our school nurse. I guess I’m only mentioning this to say that prayers are appreciated, and I’d really love to be able to be fully invested in school this last week. I feel like a really crappy teacher when I’m only feeling well enough to sit behind the desk and watch my students work on projects. Thank you for your prayers.

7 Pieces of Double Bubble

Why would someone chew 7 pieces of Double Bubble at one time? That is an excellent question. Another excellent question might be, Why would 16 missionary women sit quietly in a back room with no electricity, and then shout “Surprise!”? And finally, Why would someone have a surprise bridal shower when that person isn’t getting married for over a year? You guessed it: Because I have amazing, loving, caring, selfless friends here at Sahel.

Last Friday night, I thought that I was going to dinner at a friend’s house with Hannah, Rachel, and April. It turns out, I was going to my first bridal shower! After a long week and an even longer Friday, I couldn’t even express how encouraged and loved I felt all through the evening. (Oh, and the electricity did come back on, don’t worry.) We had delicious food—fresh summer salads, brochettes, and really yummy desserts. We played some party games, digging through our purses for used tissues and 3-month old receipts; scrambling to think of love songs that start with “B,” “R,” “I,” “D,” and “E;” and finally, watching me add a piece of gum to my mouth for each question that I answered incorrectly about my fiancé. I did get 13 out of 20 questions correct, but clearly we have more to learn about each other. 🙂 Good thing we’ve got our whole lives to learn.

The evening ended with some of my friends praying for me, for Stephen, and for us. I am so blessed and so grateful. It may be a long year of engagement, but I have high expectations for what God will teach us and how He will lead us even just through our engagement, not to mention our marriage.

Prayer and Praise and Leaving Well

Last night, at the end of a student event called O.M.C. (Organized Mass Chaos), some of the students led a prayer and praise session. We sang a song or two, then had time for guided prayers, either in groups or individually. It was wonderful. I love the songs that we sing at the Nigerien church I attend, whether we’re singing in French or in Hausa. I also enjoy the songs we sing at the evening English worship service here on campus, although I rarely know all of those songs. The songs we sang last night, however, reminded me of Cedarville and Hopevale and trips to Hungary. We sang “Revelation Song,” “How Great is our God,” “The Stand,” and “Oceans.” So yes, naturally, I cried. (“Oceans” can make me cry more reliably than onions can.) I looked around the room at these amazing students from so many countries and backgrounds and families, and all I could think was, “I have to leave again.” This time more than last time, I’ve been really looking forward to being home. I think having a fiancé to come home to is definitely influencing my mindset, but I’m sure there are other factors. However, last night, all I felt was sorrow knowing that once again, I have to say goodbye. And once again, I have no idea when/if I’ll see these people again, this side of Heaven.

As “Oceans” started to play, I made my way over to Hannah, tapped her on the shoulder, and latched on to her as our tears fell. I guess it’s good to start the grieving, the leaving sooner rather than later. And it was certainly good to start the grieving process while also singing praises to our good, constant, faithful, strong God, for “We are His, and He is ours.”

Humble Yourselves

For the May 22nd reading in Jesus Calling, one of the verses listed was I Peter 5:6. When I looked it up, I couldn’t help but notice verse 7, as well. I think I frequently only hear verse 7. It was really good for me to dwell on how verses 6 and 7 connect.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

I Peter 5:6-7

Amen. Thanks for praying.

Bonne Arrivée

That’s how she greeted me this morning, with almost more smiles than sounds: “Bonne arrivée, bonne arrivée.” As I sat under the carport eating the hard-boiled egg, blueberry muffin, and banana that my wonderful housemate, Kathy Miller, set out for me, I met Lynlee, Kathy’s house worker. (I’m very unsure of spelling at this point, and I’m only partially confident on the sounds of her name. 🙂 ) We exchanged a few more phrases en français, and it was great! Then I got to pet one of our neighbor’s cats—a very skinny tabby who looks like the “after” version of my cat at home, if my cat ever did a weight loss program. It wasn’t even very hot under the carport, around 9:00 this morning, after it rained yesterday. I’m sure, though, that the heat will be coming. You know why?

 

 

Because I’m in AFRICA!!!

 

Praise the Lord, I arrived safely in Niamey yesterday evening. (For those of you wondering, “bonne arrivée” literally means “good arrival.” Lynlee was welcoming me to Sahel. 🙂 ) My baggage even caught up to me this evening, so that is another huge blessing. In the mere day and a half that I’ve been here, I’ve already felt completely welcomed and embraced. Here are some highlights from yesterday, my first time ever in Niger:

 

  • John and Nancy DeValve personally picked me up from the airport and drove me to Sahel. They basically gave me a driving tour, which was marvelous! And they explained the railroad-down-the-middle-of-the-street. Well, when I say they explained it, I mean that we talked about how it doesn’t make a ton of sense. 🙂
  • Kathy welcomed me to her home, introduced me to the dog she’s taking care of, and guided me through Sahel’s campus over to the staff dinner where…
  • … I had the chance to meet a lot of wonderful people!! And eat some great food. And just sit. Without being airborne or in an airport. Marvelous.
  • Kathy and I took Lady, the dog, for a night walk through the campus. Kathy gave me the low-down on the buildings and a few of the ins-and-outs of Sahel.
  • Then, sleeping. Enough said. 🙂

 

And today has been great. I had the chance to walk around and talk with Dietrich, my cooperating teacher. I finally met Mikki Schmidt face-to-face; she is my supervisor for this student teaching experience. Kathy coached me through making deviled eggs, and then the single women who work here at Sahel came over for dinner here at Kathy’s! It was wonderful. There are 3 other new female teachers this year, two of whom are right around my age. Three of the twenty-ish aged single ladies live in one of the houses really close to mine, too, so that’ll be fun. 🙂

 

So far, it has been so great to settle in and meet some of the other people who help make Sahel the amazing place that it is. The conversations have been encouraging, insightful, and hilarious at times. 🙂 I’m so excited and so blessed to be here!

 

In summary, please praise God with me that

  • my luggage arrived! I could have made the two-and-a-half outfits from my carry-on last for a while, but we’re all grateful that I have more clothes now. 🙂
  • I’m staying healthy so far. 
  • I truly am enjoying this experience. Yes, I still get nervous about teaching, but it is so good to be here. Truly, we all need to praise God for this.

 

And join me in prayer for

  • Balance as I allow myself to settle in while also looking ahead to what I’m going to teach, how I’m going to teach it, and how I’m not going to ruin these children forever. Just kidding. 🙂 But really.
  • Peace as I figure out time for teaching and time for grocery shopping and laundry (another praise, we have a washing machine in the house!) and making meals and normal human functioning things.
  • Wisdom as to how much time I spend here on the Sahel campus and how much time I venture out into Niamey. (No worries, Mom and mom-like figures—I will not be venturing by myself.) It is kind of a mini-English-speaking community here all to itself. As I get busier with school, I’m just not sure how the balance of Sahel life and Niger life will work. Good thing God knows!

 

Thank you for your interest, your support, and your prayers! Oh, and please be praying for all the teachers and students as we prepare for another school year. There are lots of details to straighten out before August 13th. Thanks!!

 

[Also, I’m still figuring out internet here. At the moment my pictures and my internet are not getting along. I’ll get pictures up as soon as I can!!]